Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere


8 Comments

Has anyone seen my focus?

Photo by Daisy S on Unsplash

If you have, please send it home.

Yep, it’s been that kind of a week. I’m stuck in revision mode, but you know when you get to a spot you know you need to revise, but haven’t got a clue how to do it and not make it sound stupid? That’s where I’m at.

So I’ve been spinning my wheels, taking brainstorming walks, and debating whether to stick a pin in it and move on to the next spot. Thing is, how I revise this spot will affect other revisions later in the book. So, I need to figure this one out first.

Or do I work on another project for a few days and then go back to Book 2? Or do I take some time to work on my website and do all that other “administrative” stuff, like finding in-person events over the summer (you know, like street fairs, book fests, that sort of thing), the sort of stuff that is tough for writers to do in the first place. Although, it is nice that there are a lot of in-person things again.

I think I got out of practice, or just really comfortable not doing that stuff again. If I’m not at an in-person event, it means I can spend that much more time writing, right?

I have to give a lot of credit to real life stuff for derailing my focus. Who knew that worrying about a child trying to “adult” and having a tough time of it (because of her choices, despite the suggestions and shared wisdom of her parents) would torpedo so much creative energy? We offer guidance, suggest course corrections, but she’s still at the “not listening to my parents for the principle of it” stage.

Man, I can’t wait until that 21 year-old brain matures. If we’re lucky, she’ll listen and take our advice into consideration when making choices. Until then, we’re still pretty much dealing with a teenager. Sigh.

On the bright, “I can’t wait for it” side, I have my personal writing retreat (three-night stay) next weekend. Woo-hoo! Happy dance! Granted, I have expectations, and I know the weekend may not live up to them, but I’m hopeful. Intentional. If the weekend goes well, I’m going to try to schedule another personal writing retreat this summer.

Crossing my fingers! I’ll try to let you know how it goes; I will probably do my regular post, but if I’m on a roll, maybe not on my regular posting day.

After that, we have to get the garden planted; my tomato plants are more than ready to get into the ground. My pepper seedlings, on the other hand (and my brussels sprouts) are not doing well this year. I think I overwatered them, and they’re struggling to recover. I’ll have to go to the local greenhouse and get some plants. My cukes are coming along nicely; after last year and replanting 3 (4? 5?) times with only one plant as a result, I decided to start my cukes this year. I don’t normally, since I’ve never had much trouble when I’ve planted them directly in the garden, and cucumber plants don’t like being transplanted.

Anyway, after a brush with summer and nasty storms, the weather is settling into a more spring-like pattern–finally! It should be pretty comfortable next weekend, somewhere between the low 60s and mid-70s F for temps, and cooling to the mid-50s or so at night. The trees are waking up, and some are fully dressed again. I love the return of green plants!

Have a wonderful writing week!


8 Comments

Hey, is that … Spring?

Look quick! Don’t blink! We’re having Spring–for a week. Well, five days. Then BOOM! Summer.

Damn. I love Spring, and it’s way too early for 80 deg F temps in MN. Besides, the earlier it gets warm, the earlier I need to get the garden in. We’re past the usual last-frost date (not that it matters much in MN; we’ve had frost halfway through May), and the stinging nettle, quackgrass, and creeping charlie are popping up like it’s a race, so of course Hubs decides we need to get the garden in.

Okay, buddy. First, kill the weeds along the fence that we didn’t pull out last year, or the year before, or the year before that (I used to take the fence down every year, but since we wrapped the chicken wire around it, it’s a PITA to take down in the fall after the weeds have grown into it). We try not to use chemicals, so he got one of those dragon torches to kill the weeds. Great, except it’s more effective when you actually use it, and when said weeds aren’t a foot tall.

And the creeping charlie managed to breech the ramparts last year. I am this close to using an herbicide on that stuff. Hubs staunchly refuses, but damn it, he’s the one who brought home the grass clippings that started the invasion from another property we had. And I’m the one who maintains the garden.

Might need to be a little covert on this one.

Anyway, I didn’t intend for this to be a rant about weeds, or even about the “don’t blink, you’ll miss it” spring. I actually had a question for my fellow writers who have author websites.

So here’s the thing. I put together my website before Murder in Plane Sight came out. I was in IT for years, so doing it myself was a given. I looked at other authors’ websites to get ideas, and some authors posted about websites and tools on their blogs.

So, I did my research (ad nauseum) and picked a tool that worked well for me. It had more capability than WordPress, and I could use one plugin vs many. It worked great! Until it didn’t. So, this tool, at some point, stopped playing nice after it updated, and I couldn’t edit my webpage. So, I check in with the plugin’s tech support, who gave me a bunch of suggestions I couldn’t do because I don’t host my own site. I finally got it working again. For a while.

Then it happened again. I needed to update my site, and the damn tool stopped working again. So back to tech support. Basically, they said to rollback the updates. I did, and it worked! Rinse and repeat. It’s happened again, and I’ve turned off the auto-updates (which we all know is going to bite me in the ass at some point, because you should always keep software updated).

I’m done fighting with this plugin. Yes, it’s a subscription thing, but not too expensive (Elementor, if you are curious. And other people might not have any problems with it at all). Still, it should work after an update, right? Especially after I’ve followed all of their tech support suggestions to fix it.

Anyway, for those fellow writers who maintain their own author site, what themes or tools do you use? Suggestions? I’m starting the whole researching websites thing again, but I’m reluctant to spend a ton of time I could use to write (or plant the garden) looking for reviews and playing around with trial versions. Or playing around with my website when I don’t know if the tool I try will work for me, or even if I should redesign my whole author site. And that’s a whole ‘nother rabbit hole–looking for ideas on website design. Hell, designing a website when I don’t know what design resonates with me.

So, if anyone has any suggestions, toss them my way. I’ll probably have to set up a temporary new website to play around with until I get things figured out so I don’t mess up my real one.

Hope everyone is having some nice spring weather! Take a walk, enjoy the tulips and daffodils fast, because they won’t last long.

Happy Writing!

Watching chipmunks really wears a gal out


8 Comments

So many projects, so little focus

My favorite season is Spring. The trees wake up, the grass greens up, the flowers, the birds–the two pairs of wood ducks who always stop by on their way to wherever they go showed up earlier this week (not sure where they went, though; haven’t seen them lately). The mosquitoes aren’t out yet (but I understand ticks probably are), and it’s usually pretty nice temp-wise.

We had a nice spring last year, weeks of gorgeous weather if I remember right. A few years back, we had a couple weeks of spring, maybe. Then Memorial Day weekend was almost 100 degrees F. Ugh. Summer started waaay too soon.

This year? Oh boy. We still had lows below freezing last weekend. Yes, a week before May we had freezing temps at night. The highs have finally begun to reach the 50s. Of course, that doesn’t mention anything about the wind. OMG! A little wind is expected, but dang, we’re talking 20-25 mph gusting to 30+. Yeesh. And gray gloom. I’ve had to use my SAD therapy light a few times because the sun didn’t show up.

Anyway (you know that talking about the weather is part of MN culture, right? 😀 ). Getting focused has been tough lately, for some reason. Maybe it was the binge-reading of an urban fantasy series (K. N. Banet’s Jacky Leon series, if anyone is wondering). I needed something light, and I swear I was only going to re-read the first one …

No excuse, though. I got feedback from my agent on Book 2. Not too much, adjustments here and there, but I still have to think a bit about them. I have my game plans for revising both Book 2 and my synopsis. And my final is next week–yippee (only because that’s my last class–not looking forward to the final, but whatever)! So, studying is on the to-do list. I don’t have any classes for the rest of the year, because the classes I need aren’t being offered, so that’s a break. However, I’m going to try to test out of one of my required classes at some point this year. On the list for a later date.

I’ve got my task list, I just need to focus. Always seems to be easier said than done, especially while real life is bumpy. Could be bumpier, though. So, what to do …

My time-tested method to deal with it (especially when the weather is less than ideal for walking)? NaNoWriMo. A reinforcement of the “write every day” mantra. Granted, I won’t be trying to write 50k words, but I dedicate a couple hours every night to writing (which has the added bonus of allowing me to ignore the incessant news Hubs likes to watch).

And yes, I should work on Book 2 and the synopsis, but I feel like I need a little bit of a break. Maybe a weekend with another project, maybe my police procedural or my rural MN project. Or, maybe a weekend with my urban fantasy; not too much time, though, because I don’t have that fleshed out yet. I get random scenes in my head that bug me until I write them down. So inconsiderate!

Hope you all are enjoying better weather than our gloomy, windy, almost-but-not-quite spring.

Keep on writing!

Nyx–plotting??


5 Comments

A taste of … summer? And Musing revisions #amrevising

One day. We are due to experience ONE day of realistic spring/summer temps close to 70 degrees F–well, half a day before the storms move in–before going back to the almost-spring temps in the 40s.

I am so DONE with this not-quite-spring. We’re three-quarters of the way through April; we are usually starting to debate prepping the garden about now. I never plant before mid-May, because in MN we can get a freeze or frost up through Memorial Day. And there was this big bright ball of fire in the sky a couple days ago. Rumor has it they call it “sun”. I went for a short walk, because even though the nice, bright light said, “hey, it’s beautiful out here”, the breeze said, “don’t get your hopes up, it’s not going to get very warm.”

It’s been so gloomy the past freaking month I pulled out my SAD therapy light again, after I thought I was done needing it for the season.

“It’s a good excuse to work on your manuscript, love.”

I can’t help rolling my eyes. My Muse drops into the other recliner in the alcove. Today his wardrobe includes navy sweatpants and a long-sleeved T-shirt with a vintage AC/DC album cover on the front. Hell, there’s probably a list of concert appearances from the 80s on the back.

“Yeah. I read through my agent’s comments on Book 2. I have to let them simmer a bit before I come up with any sort of revision plan. That doesn’t mean I like the crap-ass weather we’ve been having. I’d feel a lot better if, you know, it almost felt like spring instead of … whatever this gray, wet, cool, hella-windy stuff is.” Heck, those few days in Albuquerque were the days where I saw the sun for more than a couple hours.

“Besides, if the weather was half-way decent, I could at least go for a walk to help me with my revision plan.”

He flips out the footrest and settles in. “What am I? Chopped liver?”

“No, of course not. But you know as well as I do that walking helps me brainstorm. And when you walk with me, it’s even better.” I just have to remember to bring along something to write down the great ideas I get. I’ll have to check that out on my Apple watch; I think it has a record function.

“I always walk with you, love.”

Actually, he doesn’t, but I don’t need to call him on it. Sometimes he leaves me alone on purpose. I know this because those are the times I do nothing but zone out. I think they call it “walking meditation”.

“Whatever. You need to help me figure out how to strengthen a couple characters in Book 2, and who I need to axe. I have an idea, but I’m not sure how to fix the hole if I get rid of him.”

“Well, get out the brainstorming bucket, love. We’ve got a whole wall we can throw at to see what sticks.”

Hope everyone is doing well, especially those in the path of whatever this week’s flavor of extreme weather is. Which reminds me, I have a friend in AZ I need to check in on.

Stay Calm, beg Spring to stick around, and Keep Writing!


5 Comments

I’m baaack–what a con(ference)! #amwriting #lcc2022

My very first time as moderator for a panel. L to R: Me, Tori Eldridge, Margaret Mizushima, Linda L Richards, Faye Snowden. Great authors! (photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuhn (yes, I copied it from her FB post))

I flip to yet another fresh sheet in my notebook. The tough thing about a synopsis is picking out the most important points of the story–out of 300+ pages. I’ve got the inciting incident, and the climax (I think). Oh, and the midpoint reversal. So, now I need a couple more points to transition between each, right?

The back door to my writer’s office opens, letting in a crisp breeze–and a couple stray leaves. “Damn it, shut the door. It’s frickin’ cold and windy out there.” Sheesh. Would never guess we’re halfway through April by the weather.

My Muse peels off his jacket and hangs it on the coat rack. He’s wearing a fisherman’s sweater with his worn-well jeans. He exchanges his sneakers for those big fuzzy bearpaw slippers.

“Cold feet?” I ask. “Those things are kind of ridiculous, you know. They clash with that ‘just off the set of a GQ photo shoot’ thing you’ve got going.”

He tosses me a wry grin, the divot in his chin deepening. “I knew you liked my slippers.” He settles a hip on the corner of my desk. “I see you’re finally back to work.”

I lean back in my chair. “Hey, I’m finally feeling almost normal again. Nothing like getting back from a trip and getting slammed with a wicked head cold. Hell, I couldn’t see through the brain fog for two days.”

“Uh huh.” He doesn’t sound impressed.

“Just because you never get sick. Just how wild did you and the other muses get during your own convention in Albuquerque? I didn’t see you around.”

He crosses his arms on his broad, sweater-covered chest. “Our convention was great. You, on the other hand …”

“I had a great convention. I met some great authors. I have more options for blurbs. My very first panel I moderated went surprisingly well. My panel went well. I even managed to avoid making a fool of myself at the new author breakfast with my 1-minute pitch. So, yeah, it was a great convention. I even got to talk to William Kent Kreuger. Nice guy.”

“Uh-huh. And what did he tell you, love?”

“He writes every morning, even when he’s on the road.”

My Muse just stares at me with those incredible blue eyes.

“I can do that. Maybe not always in the mornings, but in the evenings. I’ve done it before. It’s how I draft all my books.”

He sighs. “You need to focus, love.”

Goes without saying. “You need to help me with my synopsis, which I haven’t worked on since I got back because head cold.”

So before I settle in to work on my synopsis, just want to toss out there if you ever get an opportunity to attend a writing or genre conference, try to do it. It’s a wonderful experience, and a great way to network.

Have a Happy Easter/Ramadan/Passover/what have you! May Spring decide to get serious and stick around for a while!

Furry belly Tibbers and Nyx